Q&A with The Bird Sisters Author Rebecca Rasmussen
Forgiveness and Surprises
RH: The novel is in many ways about forgiveness; some characters are able to offer it and others are not. Do you think that ultimately the characters who are able to forgive others are content with their decisions?
RR: It's my belief that true forgiveness does grant some peace of mind. The trouble in the novel for many of the characters is that loving people and forgiving them for what they've done are two very different things. That trouble creates a great deal of tension for Milly and Twiss, both when they are young and when they are old. The sisters struggle to let go of the past, to forgive others as well as themselves. For them and others in the novel, being content with their decisions doesn't always mean they are happy about them.
RH: Did you discover anything as you were writing? Did you always know what exactly happened during the summer of 1947 that Milly and Twiss are reflecting on or were some things a surprise to you, too?
RR: I don't love surprises in my real life, but I do love them in fiction. For me, part of the thrill of writing a novel is that I don't know everything that is going to happen. I love when my characters surprise me, as the characters in The Bird Sisters did. I knew they were desperate; I just didn't know where that desperation would lead them. I remember weeping when I finally figured out what was going to happen to each of them, because even though I was the writer, I was helpless to stop the events from unfolding. In a sense, no matter how much I loved them, I was barred from intervening.